How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome: Brain Hacks Every Manager Needs to Know

Have you ever found yourself sitting in a high-stakes meeting, surrounded by accomplished colleagues, and suddenly felt a wave of insecurity?

Like, you don’t belong there?
Like, what if they ask me a question, that I won’t know the answer to?
Like, what if I’m found out?
Like, how have I even made it here?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

You are likely dealing with the age-old “imposter syndrome.”

As someone deeply passionate about neuroscience and human behaviour, I want to assure you that there are practical, science-backed “brain hacks” that can help you banish these self-doubting thoughts. Are you ready to be equipped with actionable tips to rise above imposter syndrome and live your most authentic life?

So, what Is Imposter Syndrome, Really?
Imposter Syndrome is that gnawing feeling that you’re a fraud and you’ll be ‘found out’ at any moment. While it can happen to anyone, it’s especially prevalent among high-achieving individuals. The irony is that the more you accomplish, the more you feel like an imposter. Sounds familiar?

The Neuroscience Behind Imposter Syndrome
First up, your brain is hardwired to protect you. This can be traced back to our primitive ancestors whose survival depended on their ability to recognize and avoid threats. In modern times, our ‘threats’ are often less about physical danger and more about emotional or psychological risks. Here’s where imposter syndrome comes in. The brain lowers our confidence to keep us from taking risks that could lead to failure, embarrassment, or judgment. Think of it as your brain’s way of keeping you in your comfort zone, or what it perceives as your ‘safe zone.’

The Amygdala: The Fear Center
The amygdala, a tiny almond-shaped cluster of nuclei in your brain, plays a key role in emotional processing. It’s your brain’s “alarm system” and it’s incredibly effective at alerting you to anything that may be a threat. When you’re about to take on a task that makes you feel like an imposter, the amygdala sets off emotional alarms that manifest as fear or anxiety. This often results in avoidance behaviours—basically, it’s easier to not try than to risk failing.

Neuroplasticity: The Brain’s Adaptability
Now for the good news. The brain is not a static organ; it’s continually evolving and adapting. This phenomenon is known as neuroplasticity. It means that just as our brains have been shaped to induce feelings of imposter syndrome, they can also be rewired to foster confidence and courage.

Activating the Prefrontal Cortex: The Control Centre
The prefrontal cortex is your brain’s control centre for decision-making and behaviour. Activating it helps override the amygdala’s fear response. With the right tools and ‘brain hacks,’ you can train your prefrontal cortex to respond differently to the amygdala’s alarms, allowing you to move out of your ‘safe zone’ and into your ‘growth zone.’

Now, with the right hacks, you can rewire those neural pathways described and build up your self-belief.

How to Recognize Imposter Syndrome
Here are some common signs:
You downplay your achievements
You’re overly critical of yourself
You attribute your success to external factors like luck
Fear of being ‘exposed’
Overcompensating through overworking
Reluctance to accept praise
Avoiding challenges
Comparison to others
Recognized yourself in these? Don’t worry, let’s dive into how to overcome it.

Brain Hacks to Beat Imposter Syndrome

1. Reframe Your Thoughts
Each time you think, “I’m not good enough,” counteract it with a positive affirmation like, “I am capable and worthy of my position.”

2. Develop a ‘Power Pose’
Physicality impacts mentality. Stand tall with your chest out and your hands on your hips. Even two minutes in a power pose can lower cortisol levels and boost your confidence.

3. Create a ‘Win Wall’
Keep a record of all your achievements, no matter how small. When imposter syndrome strikes, revisit this wall to remind yourself how far you’ve come.

4. Talk It Out
Sometimes, it’s helpful to verbalize your insecurities. You’ll be surprised how many people around you have felt the same way.

5. Seek Expert Help
If imposter syndrome is seriously affecting your life, it might be beneficial to seek professional guidance. As a neurocoach, I offer personalized brain hacks that can be life-changing.

Why It’s Crucial to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Feeling like an imposter can hinder your career growth and personal development. It stops you from taking risks and grabbing opportunities that come your way. Overcoming it allows you to make empowered decisions and can contribute significantly to your overall happiness.

Embrace Your Authentic Self
The road to overcoming imposter syndrome is not a sprint but a marathon. It’s all about making incremental changes and acknowledging your progress. And hey, give yourself a break; you’re doing better than you think.

Here’s to stepping into a bolder, more authentic you!

Remember, the power to change lies within you. With the right hacks, you can rewire your brain for success. After all, you are more capable than you think, and it’s about time the world sees that too!

Simone Boer
Author: Simone Boer